Alex's lengthy attempt to get Grandma Carol to go swimming with him:
"First, Mom will take Genoa to the store, to Fred Meyer. Then Daddy will go to the gun store to look for a gun for Uncle Johnny. Then you and me can get in the car and drive to the pool place and go swimming. I will give you a swimming lesson! Doesn't that sound like a great plan?"
I wrote this post about quitting my job and leaving the Bay Area. We've come along way baby:
We haven't seen any more houses since Sunday, but I promise to post photos and reviews of all the houses we do see. It's actually fun to share our little shopping excursions.
Today's post at The Mom Street Journal is about how we might be getting cold feet about buying at all. (To summarize, 1) the market is probably headed down right now 2) we like saving money, not buying high and selling low and 3) this apartment is pretty dang nice). All that said, we'll probably find a house we absolutely must have and we'll end up making an offer anyway.
We spent most of today in Portland attempting to round up a new work wardrobe for Dave. Apparently, outside of California, it's not actually okay to show up at a law firm every day in baggy jeans and a wrinkled shirt. Who knew?
At one point at the mall, I thought I'd surely lost my purse forever. I'd left it at the food court and didn't realize it was missing until I went to go put on some lip gloss and, uh, HOLY SHIT NO PURSE ON THE STROLLER. I ran back there while silently praying that I could finally believe in God and that somehow that God would magically see to it that my purse was still there and I wouldn't have to make 200 phone calls before sundown. Because I really needed THAT to worry about.
Apparently God heard me though, because it was there and when I saw it in all it's beautiful red pleather glory, I hugged it like a long lost child and that was how the security officer, who was hovering over it while gabbing into his walkie-talkie, must've been able to surmise that it wasn't a bomb after all.
When we got home, we headed straight for the complex pool, which turned out to be much nicer than I expected. Genoa kicked happily around in her infant floatie while Alex refused to enter the pool any further than the third step. He somehow slipped and his head went under water for literally two seconds while we were staying with my parents and now he's terrified of swimming. Which isn't to say that he doesn't want to go to the pool, it just means he's content to sit on the steps the whole time.
While we were there, I did observe something about which I can't help but be totally judgmental. After Alex had been hogging the steps for a few minutes, another three-year-old arrived with his dad, who flopped down on a chaise lounge and proceeded to work, both on a pad of paper he'd brought along and on his cellphone, while leaving his THREE-YEAR-OLD alone to fend for himself in the pool.
Admittedly, his kid was a ROCKIN' swimmer who had somehow managed to learn to jump off the side of the pool and swim the four or five feet back to the steps. I was duly impressed with the kid, but SO BUGGED by the dad. Seriously. THREE. YEARS. OLD. So strong and overwhelming is my fear of my kids drowning that I often find myself unable to breathe normally while anywhere in the vicinity of a body of water. In my humbly judgmental opinion, the pool isn't a place where you can let your kid play and look up from your book every three or four minutes to make sure they're okay. It's EYES ON THE PRIZE every second of every minute. Kids DIE in pools. It happens ALL THE TIME. Even to kids who can swim really well.
I'm not sure what the magic age will be when I'll feel like I can stop freaking out about drowning, but it's definitely a double-digit number, not THREE. Until then, I'll be the frizzy-haired mom in the baby pool yanking up her too-tight bathing suit while simultaneously gripping her children for dear life.
House hunting trip numero uno was a success. The kids were great, the Realtor was nice (and not too gabby, thankyouverymuch!) and we didn't find the perfect house, which is actually a GOOD thing since we don't really want to make any offers until Dave spends a month or two at his job.
For fun, I thought I'd take you along on our house hunting journey. I'm going to try to post a photo of every house we look at and our reasons why each one is not for us, until we find the house that is.
This house was near the bottom of our price range and frankly, it showed that way. The lot was big, but very sloped and the house felt a little cramped in spite of its 2034 square feet. We didn't even bother going upstairs and big-mouthed me told the realtor, "I'm just not in love with the feel of it," right as the owner opened the front door to come back home to get her sons shoes. I'm a common sufferer of foot-in-mouth disease.
From afar, this house was cute. On a sloping cul-de-sac in a BEAUTIFUL neighborhood where most of the homes have views that span all the way over the Columbia River into Portland. The house did have an excellent floor plan with 2227 square feet, but it needed a TON of work. The exterior trim was separating in a lot of places and the whole thing needed paint inside and out. Nothing inside had been updated at all, so it would've required about $20k of tile/paint/hardwood, which we don't have. Dave, Mr. Construction Defect Litigator himself, didn't really even want to look inside after he saw the potential problems with the exterior. It also backed to a busy-ish street.
We both really loved this home. There is something nice about a single story; they always have a much more open feel to them. I also liked some of the architectural details in the home (although the owners had a penchant for really hideous granite and marble tile pretty much every where it could be placed, including the kitchen FLOOR). Unfortunately, the whole house was a no-go because it backed DIRECTLY to the elementary school with absolutely ZERO privacy. No thanks.
OMG did we LOVE this house! Every inch of its 2079 square feet was beautiful right down to the paint colors the owners had chosen. It had a large, perfectly-landscaped , kid-friendly , private yard and we both thought the floor plan was great. But the kitchen was small, with almost no counter space and angled at such a way as to render it almost impossible to fix without major expense. We might come back to it in a couple months if nothing else pans out, but I was really looking forward to having a large cook's kitchen. Also it was at the top of our price range.
Another house that we absolutely LOVED. The owners were there (with their cute little 19 month old daughter) and said that they had just finished remodeling it when one of their neighbors offered to sell them his larger home for a good price. This house was immaculate inside and out and looked like a page out of a Pottery Barn catalog. Glass tile in the kitchen, slate counters , oak hardwood throughout, not to mention a ton of beautiful architectural details . Sadly, they had it listed as a 3 bedroom and really it was a 2 bedroom with an office. It just wasn't big enough for us, which was really a shame.
Neither of us liked anything about this house after walking through the door. It was well decorated and nice, but, I dunno, eh. We left before going upstairs.
We shouldn't even have bothered entering this house because in person, it looked ENTIRELY different from this photo. It's basically a big rectangle with some (blue) bricks added onto the front. Neither Dave nor I like flat-fronted houses. It was also on a corner, which made the back yard that much smaller.
Even though this one was on a corner, I was looking forward to seeing inside of it. But here's a word of advice: if you're trying to sell your house, you might want to take a shower every once in a while so your entire house doesn't smell like BO and cat piss. Eh. The house itself was weird inside - almost as if it had been designed to be a mansion and was then shrunk down to 2300 square feet. It felt like I was inside of a (very stinky) boat. No thanks!
I still have a bunch of photos on my camera from our recent house hunting trip during which we absolutely FELL IN LOVE with a little town one freeway exit east of Vancouver (for the locals - Camas, yay or nay?), but I finally got around to uploading a bunch of stuff to Flickr.
I'm working on trying to upload a bunch of photos right now, but in the meantime, please go check out my friend Laura's post about the second degree burn her daughter got from a plastic slide yesterday. I never would've imagined such a horrible injury could come from an innocent plastic slide!
Am I the only one who finds it more difficult to get anything done when her husband is home? I realize it's counter-intuitive because technically he's there to help with the kids so I can get stuff done, but it just NEVER works out that way for me. It's like he's walking around the house wearing a productivity-killing forcefield. Or something.
Anyway, in much more important and adorable news, Genoa hasn't picked up any new words in a while, so last night when I bent down to hand her some snapeas and she squawked out "ak-goo ma!" (thank you mom!), I was beside myself. I've been encouraging her to say thank you, so hearing that for the first time last night was a big relief.
After she fell asleep at the bright early hour of ELEVEN O'CLOCK(!!), Dave and I sat down with some e-mails from the Realtor. Out of something like 40 listings in our price range that meet our overall requirements, it looks like there are about six or seven houses for us to see tomorrow. Picky much? So far, here's our list of wants/needs,etc:
All this said, the most important factors for us are 1) specific elementary school(s) 2) neighborhood and 3) lot size. Everything else can be changed in the future. I am so grateful to Melissa for airing her year-long struggle to sell her house. It has completely changed my perspective. Our plan is to upgrade to a bigger/better home after I go back to work and all along I had been thinking we'd probably buy something new and just put up with being on a tiny lot for four or five years.
But with the way the market is - TONS of homes for sale and seemingly few buyers - I want to be much more careful. We could be stuck in whatever house we buy for a decade and that means the home itself is far less important than the external factors. We can paint all the oak trim white, put in hardwood floors or even add on a bedroom or two, but we can't change our neighbors or make the lot any bigger. It feels good to have some perspective as we go through what I'm sure will be a hugely emotional process.
1. Just like it takes me forever to write the correct year on checks in January, I'm going to have to re-train my brain to scroll an on line drop-down menu past California all the way down to Washington.
2. Freaking Burgerville, man. I've gained five pounds just from the Pepper-Bacon Tillamook Cheeseburger ALONE. Best fast food I've ever had in my life. And, dare I say, better even than the beloved In 'n Out.
3. All the other food we've eaten out here has been totally average. Particularly pizza. We've had two of the most horrific pizza delivery experiences imaginable. I didn't know pizza could be THAT bad. (For the locals, Figaro's and Godfather's.) Seriously, it's crust, sauce and cheese; even I have a hard time screwing it up!
4. Friday we took Alex to a home-grown Pump it Up-type franchise. It was excellent and both kids ended up having a blast. Dave had never seen Genoa so animated and talkative as when I let her into one of the bounce houses with her brother and she got to flop around. Of course I forgot my camera.
5. I think I made my first new friend last night at, of all places, a Fred Meyer store. A sweet woman asked me the ages of the kids and after a quick round of speed dating, I gave her my phone number. Amazingly, she's already called to set up a play date.
6. I am REALLY grateful for all the welcoming I've gotten so far from mandajuice readers. I'm really looking forward to doing some kind of a meet-up soon. I just want to wait until Dave starts his new job in July. I promise to actually take you all up on your offers to hang as soon as he's out of my hair.
7. A new post is up at The Mom Street Journal about our day trip to the Oregon zoo yesterday and the EVIL traffic we had on our way back to town. Thank god neither of us needs to commute into Portland!